Kickass Women

History is filled with women doing all kinds of kickass stuff.

Smart Girls

Watch these girls... they're going places!

Inspiration

Need a dose of inspiration? Here you go.

SRPS Entertainment

Some of my entertainment recommendations with awesome female characters and stars.

She's Crafty!

Some of the awesome items made by kickass women!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Google Science Fair Winner Kiara Nirghin!

Congratulations to Kiara Nirghin, the Grand Prize winner in the 2016 Google Science Fair!



I am not at all surprised this brilliant young scientist won! Her remarkable project was the first one I reviewed for this year, and I was struck by its simplicity and the amazing potential it has to improve the lives of farmers around the globe adapt to increasingly dry conditions. When asked what could she make better with science, she looked around her and saw poor farmers struggling to bring in enough crops to stay in business, and she wondered if there was something she could do to help.

In her project "Combating Drought with a Low-Cost, Biodegradable Superabsorbent Polymer Made Out of Orange Peels," she shares her research looking for a low-cost, biodegradable, water-storing polymer that can be added to the soil to help retain moisture during periods of drought.
"I sought to create a product that can improve soil quality, preserve water and resist drought therefore producing a better environment for crops grow. It is must be harmless and non-polluting with super water absorbing ability and water preserving ability."
Like all of this year's contestants, she followed her natural curiosity and used her scientific know-how to figure out a way to make something better, and in the process discovered something pretty remarkable that can have a long-lasting impact on the environment as well as the lives of people around the world.

Brava Kiara!



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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Science Fair Rock Star: Anushka Naiknaware

This is the eighth in an ongoing series highlighting some of the amazing young women participating in the 2016 Google Science Fair. (Here are the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh posts.) Each of these smart young scientists has survived both the rigorous first pass and the second regional round, and have been named Global Finalist, meaning they have moved into the final round of competition. You can be sure I'll be watching the celebration event on September 27, 2016.



Wound care is a critical part of health care, but one that too often gets overlooked in research in favor of bigger, more prestigious endeavors like cancer detection or treating heart disease. But the number of people treated for wounds far outpaces those who need most other kinds of health care. And while it might seem like clinicians are simply wrapping a wound to protect it, there is far more going on underneath the bandage than a little ointment and cotton gauze.

Anushka Naiknaware, 13, knows that effective treatment of wounds involves balancing several different but interdependent goals: stopping any bleeding, absorbing any excess fluid, addressing signs of infection, and keeping the wound at the optimum moisture level to heal quickly and cleanly. To that end, she's created a bandage with a built-in sensor to do all of these things.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Science Fair Rock Star: Nishita Belur

This is the seventh in an ongoing series highlighting some of the amazing young women participating in the 2016 Google Science Fair. (Here are the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth posts.) Each of these smart young scientists has survived both the rigorous first pass and the second regional round, and have been named Global Finalist, meaning they have moved into the final round of competition. You can be sure I'll be watching the celebration event on September 27, 2016.



One of the things I love about reading about these Google Science Fair projects is seeing the these kid's intense curiosity about how things work and how they can apply what they have learned to the objects around them and in the process learn even more. It's endlessly fascinating for me how they will take a principle they learn about in class and look for ways to use it to understand the world around them, and then look for ways to improve it.

Nishita Belur was curious about how sheet metal is inspected for use in manufacturing, and shocked to learn that production facilities still rely on a simple visual inspection for dents and scratches. For many items, like automobile panels, this may be an adequate technique, as paint and other finishes will cover most minor imperfections. But for other uses, like being formed into pipes or boxes, where even minuscule flaws can compromise the structural integrity, inspection of the sheet metal becomes increasingly important, and flaws that could cause problems in the final product may be missed by the human eye.

So she had the bright idea of using a laser to test the surface of a piece of sheet metal to find any scratches or dents. In her project, "Detection of Metal Surface Defects Using Laser Light Reflection," she investigates the effectiveness of measuring the reflection of a laser off the surface to determine if there were any underlying imperfections. She connected a photo-diode to measure the reflected light's intensity and turning it into voltage. The closer to perfect the surface is, the more light that falls on the photo-diode, and the higher the voltage.



While her test sheets were quite small, it is easy to image a system that could be build to run along larger sheets as they are being pressed and rolled, measuring for imperfections and recording their locations. While this may not change the way automobile factories operate, it could have wide-ranging benefits for manufacturing operations that rely on precision measurements.

Most exciting, though, is this young scientist is only thirteen years old, with many more years of learning and experimenting ahead of her!

If you like the work I do here at Self-Rescuing Princess Society,
please check out my Patreon.

Friday, September 23, 2016

SRPS TV Night: Pitch



I don't usually watch live TV. And I rarely watch TV at night. I'm a fan of catching up the next day or so via streaming or DVR. So, staying up to watch a TV show as it's being broadcast is reserved for the very best shows -- the shows I'm too excited about to wait even a few hours to watch.

So when I said I was going to stay up and watch Pitch last night at 9 o'clock -- when I'm typically ensconced in my nightly bath -- my husband was a bit surprised. To be honest, I was a little worried it wouldn't be worth the special treatment. Well... that worry was gone after the opening few minutes, when it was clear this was something special. By the first commercial break, I was "all in."

The real life build up for this show has been pretty much like the on-screen build up we see for Ginny's first pitch. At every turn in the first 20 minutes of the show, Ginny is inundated with reminders of the importance of her position and the sheer number of people who are either placing their own hopes on her, or are just waiting for her to fail to justify their own sexist beliefs.

That's a lot of weight to place on one person, or one show. In Ginny's case she flounders under this unfair burden. On the big day, with everyone watching, as you might expect, she has trouble focusing, distracted by thoughts of her father, the voices of her detractors, and her feelings of responsibility to the seemingly endless stream of young girls in the stands holding up "We're counting on you" signs.

I'm not going to spoil the show for you, but it's pretty obvious that eventually she does pull it together, with some help from some unexpected places as well as from some trust-worthy friends. And from her own sheer force of will, which, as we learn, she got from her father.

This is classic hero's journey stuff, and it makes for a fantastic emotional roller coaster ride. As much as I enjoy wish-fulfillment fiction, I have been craving a good hero's journey story with a kickass female lead. Seeing my heroes doing the hard work to overcome their challenges is the best source of inspiration for when I'm facing my own struggles.

For this show to be truly successful, we need to be emotionally invested in each of the characters -- love them or hate them -- and this pilot does exactly that, and perfectly so. We get to meet her teammates, her coach, her friends, and her father. We get to meet the people who've helped to make her who she is today through their love and support, or by their dismissal, or even out-right hate.

Honestly, I can't help but think of Ginny's struggles in this first episode as a kind of allegory for our expectations and reactions to this show, and on a broader scale, the often unrealistic responsibilities we place on anyone trying to break this kind of historic barrier. We have to acknowledge how our own hopes influence the way we view someone else's actions, and relax a little and give folks a little room to do what they're good at.
"You do this for you. You do this for your team or you don't go it all. Because you can't aim your pitches if you're aiming to please everyone." 
It is as true in life as it is on the pitcher's mound. After being totally wowed by the first episode, I'm hopeful that Pitch will live up to all of my baseball-loving expectations as well as my feminist hopes. We have a whole season to see how it goes. For now I'm going to relax a little and just enjoy the ride.

If you like the work I do here at Self-Rescuing Princess Society,
please check out my Patreon.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Science Fair Rock Star: Maria Vitória Valoto

This is the sixth in an ongoing series highlighting some of the amazing young women participating in the 2016 Google Science Fair. (Here are the first, second, third, fourth and fifth posts.) Each of these smart young scientists has survived both the rigorous first pass and the second regional round, and have been named Global Finalist, meaning they have moved into the final round of competition. You can be sure I'll be watching the celebration event on September 27, 2016.



Do you know someone who is lactose-intolerant? Sixteen-year-old Maria Vitória Valoto of Brazil does -- her father -- and he inspired her to find a way to help others with the same condition.

Dairy products, in particular milk, have long been used as an inexpensive source of calcium and protein, but a significant portion of the population cannot tolerate the lactose. For many this means they must forgo dairy, missing out on the the benefits altogether. Others may choose to purchase enzymatic capsules to take with dairy products, or to purchase substitute products that either have already had the lactose (and much of the nutrition) removed or are completely dairy-free, such as soy milk -- all of which can be quite expensive.

For her Google Science Fair project, Maria had the brilliant idea of making a reusable capsule containing the same enzymes in the over the counter pills and applying it directly to the carton of milk, creating a less expensive alternative for those who cannot afford to purchase special substitutes but who also cannot afford to miss out on this important source of nutrition. In her project, "Development of reusable capsules of beta-galactosidase intended for people who are lactose intolerant," for which she was named a Global Finalist, she asks whether it would be possible to develop a more economical, reusable product, capable of hydrolyzing lactose that would be practical for everyday use by a wide range of the world's population.

And, as you can probably guess, she was right! With a little trial and error, she was able to come up with a reusable sachet-type device with beta-galactosidase that can be added directly to the milk, can be used for up to a week, will work regardless of fat content, and is able to be stored at room temperature. And all this for a teeny fraction of the cost of special items!

If you like the work I do here at Self-Rescuing Princess Society,
please check out my Patreon.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Science Fair Rock Star: Mansha Fatima

This is the fifth in an ongoing series highlighting some of the amazing young women participating in the 2016 Google Science Fair. (Here are the first, second, third and fourth posts.) Each has survived both the rigorous first pass and the second regional round, and have been named Global Finalist, meaning they have moved into the final round of competition. You can be sure I'll be watching the celebration event on September 27, 2016.



Rice is the staple food of over half the world's population. According to Wikipedia, rice provides as much as one-fifth of the calories humans consume, either as food they eat themselves or feed/fodder for their livestock. As such an important crop, it's surprising how little attention has been given to improving crop yields or environmental impacts.

Fifteen-year-old Mansha Fatima wanted to find out if using inexpensive automation systems would show an improvement in crop yields and a reduction in water usage, both of which would improve the lives of farmers in her home country, India.

For her 2016 Google Science Fair project, "Automated Water Management and Monitoring System in Paddy Fields" she created a miniature rice paddy with an automated system to open and close the gates between the water reservoir and her fields. She knew that the water requirements for rice plants vary over the course of its growth period, and that opening and closing gates on large scale farms is time-sensitive and labor-intensive. She wanted to find an easy and cost-efficient way to automate this process, and then see if it improved crop outputs.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Shout-Out: Dr. Carla Hayden - Leading Librarian



Remember those stories about how the libraries in Baltimore were kept open during the 2015 riots? So kids who couldn't go to school had a safe place to go during the day? So people who were in desperate need for a sanctuary from the violence in the street, or who simply needed a break before returning to their posts defending their rights, could have a bit of quiet? That was because the Baltimore Library system knew the important role they play in their community.

The woman who made that decision, Dr. Carla Hayden, has been recognized for her dedicated service to the public, and promoted to what can effectively be called "the head librarian of the US." In a touching ceremony on Wednesday, September 14, she was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress, the first woman and the first person of color to hold that position.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Kickstart This! Velara Warriors


"We want to change the misconception that boys don't want to play with female action figures or that girls only want dolls."
A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared a story with me about a pair of sisters who decided to make a line of female warrior action figures. Their goal, they said, was to create a set of figures that exploded the myth long held by manufacturers that boys and girls want different types of toys. After extensive interviews with kids about what they want, and parents who were fed up with the limited selection of toys, they decided to create their own line: Velara Warriors
"The Velara warriors are strong and heroic but they are also feminine. We want to show children that women can be heroes,"
Of course, I was immediately intrigued and sent off a note to these amazing young women to learn more about their project and its inspiration. Roobini and Trisshala Sittampalam were kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and chat with me about the importance of representation in the toy aisle.